Cher In Pakistan To Send Off Elephant She Worked To Free

Elias Hubbard
November 28, 2020

Oscar-winning American singer-actor Cher briefly visited Pakistan Friday to mark the newly-found freedom of a 35-year-old elephant named Kaavan, who she campaigned to move out of captivity.

With the relocation of Kaavan, not only will Pakistan's last Asian elephant leave the country, but the infamous zoo in Islamabad will finally close, according to the Four Paws.

Cher will join in with further celebrations of his release from the zoo to a sanctuary in Cambodia, but because of security concerns, her schedule was not made public.

Khan's office quoted him as telling Cher that it was "indeed a happy moment that after giving joy and happiness to Pakistanis for years, Kaavan will now be able to retire with other elephants in a specialized sanctuary in Cambodia". Khan's office released a video of the singer sitting with the prime minister outside on the expansive grounds of Khan's residence.

As reported by AFP, a team of vets and experts from Four Paws, an Austria-based animal welfare group, has spent months working with Kaavan to get him ready for the journey to Cambodia.

Kaavan, an elephant who has languished in Islamabad's Marghazar Zoo for more than three decades, lost his partner in 2012.

Meanwhile, PM Imran thanked Cher for her undying efforts to make Kaavan's move a reality.

Earlier in the week, Kaavan was given a farewell by President Dr Arif Alvi and First Lady Samina Alvi at Marghzar Zoo.

Activists dubbed Kaavan the "world's loneliest elephant" after his plight gained worldwide attention and the unhappy elephant was diagnosed as emotionally as well as physically damaged.

Dr Khalil said there are many elephants at the sanctuary but in particular three female elephants are awaiting Kaavan's arrival, joking that Kaavan might just find a girlfriend there.

"Celebrities lending their voices to good causes are always welcomed, as they help starting public discourse and raising pressure on responsible authorities", he said of Cher's involvement in the campaign. Four Paws, which often carries out animal rescue missions, has provided the medical treatment needed before Kaavan can travel.

Cher already met with Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan on Friday and is said to be meeting with Kavaan himself later in the day. She tweeted she was making a documentary on Kaavan and said, "think documentary will be heartwarming".

Even after he is in Cambodia, he will require years of physical and even psychological assistance, Mr Bauer said.

The "Believe" singer has been a vocal advocate for Kavaan since 2016, with worldwide activists rallying around the elephant in an effort to save him from a life of solitude and mistreatment at Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad. The elephant also developed a stereotypical behavior because of his loneliness, the cause of his shaking head back and forth for hours.

He is set to leave for a sanctuary in Cambodia on Sunday after years of lobbying by animal rights groups and activists.

Animal rights activists have been campaigning to free Kaavan and to treat animals in a better way at the zoo.

Kaavan was put on a diet of fruit and vegetables and has lost 450 kilogrammes, he said. Now, the "world's loneliest elephant" comes lumbering over when he hears Khalil's voice.

"Cher had arrived and is so grateful for the help and support from the people of Pakistan to allow Kaavan to move to Cambodia and live out the rest of his life in peace and with dignity", Cowne said in an email to VOA.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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